Marriage

An ongoing series of informational entries

Seeing Him Through New Eyes

April 8, 2014

There is nothing like new love. You meet that special someone who makes your heart flutter, and you love spending time with them, talking to them, and dreaming about the possibility of a future with them. Then you become engaged and life is abuzz with wedding plans. The ceremony is filled with family and friends, and it is beautiful, but you only have eyes for him. You may or may not go on a honeymoon, but every relationship has a 'honeymoon' phase, and that phase will eventually end...the newness will wear off. That's when the real work begins.

When you first fall in love, it's so easy to see the good qualities in the person you care about. In fact, it's typical to only see their good qualities because you are infatuated. However, after you are married and you are trying to join forces to create a home together, it can be difficult. You must remember that each of you were raised in a different home with a different set of rules, and you each do things differently. It takes time to create a system for your own home that works for each of you.

After some time passes, and life and responsibilities come into play, the newness and fun starts to wear off. You both come home tired, the bills have to be paid, the house needs to be cleaned, meals need to be cooked, and those are only basic physical needs. The work increases if you decide to have children. There are nighttime feedings, sick children, and meeting the needs of the children takes so much time. You also have church services and functions many days and evenings during the week. All of these responsibilities begin to weigh on you, and soon you find that you don't have time to sit and talk with your spouse or do fun things together. As the pressure mounts, it's easy for each of you to be snappy with the other. Before you know it, fighting becomes the norm, and you begin to question if this was really "the ONE" for you. I can guarantee you that if steps aren't taken to prevent this, every couple will battle this at some point in their marriage.

If you are at this point in your relationship, it is easy to see all of the things that your spouse does that irritate you. He may leave his dirty socks on the floor, or not pick up his plate. He may come home tired from a long day and not feel like talking. After you've been home with the kids, you want to talk, and when he doesn't, you may feel rejected. The list of possibilities is endless, but whatever the problems may be, there are ways to overcome.

First, you must remember that you are committed. When you said "I do", you promised that you would be with him "til death do us part." That didn't mean only when things were going good, but through the good times as well as the bad.

Second, pray! Pray for your marriage every day....and pray together! The devil has waged war on marriages. Matthew 19: 6 says, "Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." God joins two people together in marriage, and it is a holy covenant with Him and each other, not to be taken lightly. He instructs us that no man would put asunder, defined as 'being apart from each other in position or direction; in separate parts or pieces'. We are not to separate what God has joined together, and we must fight and not give place to the devil as he tries to destroy this covenant.

Third, fight for him! Be willing to put in more effort than you ever thought possible. Don't sell yourself short! Don't give up easily! Your marriage is worth fighting for! Even if you are the only one in the relationship fighting for the marriage, YOU can make all the difference! You must take a step back and realize that through your heartache and all the things that irritate you, he may also have some of those very same things. The reality is that none of us are perfect, but we can turn our situation around by fighting for what is right. When God sees that you are willing to fight, He will help you! It's His will that you are together. Remember...millions of other women have gone through this and succeeded! You can too! Fight for your marriage like never before!

Last, see him through new eyes. I would ask you to re-read the first four sentences of this post......."There is nothing like new love. You meet that special someone who makes your heart flutter, and you love spending time with them, talking to them, and dreaming about the possibility of a future with them. Then you become engaged and life is abuzz with wedding plans. The ceremony is filled with family and friends, and it is beautiful, but you only have eyes for him." Now, think back to when everything was new in your relationship. I would challenge you to make yourself see him through the same eyes you saw him through in the beginning. It wouldn't have bothered you if he had not picked up after himself. You would have gladly done it for him and just enjoyed being able pamper him a little. If he didn't feel like talking because he was tired, you would have tried to understand and encouraged him to get some sleep as you tucked him in. You were thankful to have him. Purposefully look for those qualities in him that you are still thankful for. Love him! It's easy to say, "I love you", but when you can love him when he's unlovable is when you truly love him. See all the things that hurt you now through different eyes, and forgive everything. It may not change the situation, but it will change something in your heart. When he sees the difference in how you respond to him, it will make a difference in how he responds to you. Then, with both of you working together, through the good times and the bad, you can succeed in 'happily ever after' as you always try to see him through new eyes!

A Marital Revelation:  Making Your Spouse #1

May 1, 2014

It is inevitable that your spouse will do or say something during the course of the marriage that will cause you to either become emotionally hurt or angry as a result. As a Christian, you know that you must forgive them. That is a basic element of Christianity, and you know it is essential to a good relationship. However, when the incident occurs, it is only natural for you to view the situation in the sense of how you were hurt, or what happened to yourself. Let's think outside of the box and see if this brings your marriage to a new level.

First, you and your spouse are a team. You are in a race called life, trying to make it to your goal, which is eternal life with Jesus Christ, our Lord. The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes 4: 10 "For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up." Everyone falls, and when your spouse falls, it is your job to help them up.

Second, your spouse should be the one person in this world who loves you the most, and would do anything for you. Therefore, they aren't going to plan how they can hurt you the worst, or make you the angriest. When you do become hurt or angry because of something they have done, you must realize that they love you, and it is likely that they would not willingly do something like that, which brings us to the third point...

If your spouse loves you and you know they wouldn't do anything in this world to harm you, yet it happens, do you think that maybe they are struggling and possibly could have stumbled and fallen, spiritually speaking? It could be a situation where they have been tempted, or were overcome by their flesh. If they have fallen, it is your job to obey the word of God and help them up. This is where you must think outside of the box, and stop looking at yourself...your feelings, what they've done to you, blah, blah, blah, and look at them and where they are. If they have stumbled and fallen, and you only focus on yourself without being concerned for your teammate, encouraging them, and helping them work through the problem, you could be jeopardizing their very salvation, as well as your marriage, and possibly your own salvation.

When God brought you together, He meant for you to be a strength to one another when you're weak, to be an encourager and cheer one another on, and help each other to fight the good fight of faith so that you would both be successful in your journey toward life everlasting. When one or both spouses doesn't do those things, and they leave their spiritually wounded teammate laying where they've fallen, they no longer have someone to pick them up if and when they themselves fall, and this is all because we focus on ourselves when we're hurt and angry, instead of realizing that there is a bigger issue that needs to be dealt with. Look past those things. Eternity together is much more important than our own selfish, and usually petty "poor me" attitude. Find out what is going on with your spouse, help them through it, and show them that you truly love them! When you endeavor to obey the word of God, asking Him for strength and to help you be the Christian that He would have you to be, and you learn to put your spouse first, you will experience a deeper, God-filled love in your marriage than you could have ever imagined!

*When the words hurt or harm are used in this article, they are in regard to emotional pain and not physical. If your spouse purposefully hurts you physically, there is a much bigger problem, and you need to seek help.

10 Rules for a Blessed Marriage

April 23, 2014

Many couples enter into marriage with stars in their eyes, imagining the perfect life together, but without proper guidelines to live by, their marriage will not be all that it could be. Unfortunately, all that most people know about marriage is what they've observed in the way that their parents conducted their marriage, and many times, those ways are unhealthy habits to bring into a relationship. When equipped with good marital guidelines, and a couple will play by the rules, with no cheating (pun intended), the possibility of a fulfilling marriage and 'until death do us part' is a reality that can be attained.

Rule #1: Pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5: 17) We are instructed in the Bible to pray. Marriage is one of the most important relationships we will ever be involved in. Marriages last for the largest percentage of a persons life. The married couple is a team designed to help one another successfully attain eternal life in heaven. Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12 says, "Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; an a threefold cord is not quickly broken." Our job in marriage is to lift our spouse up, and encourage them. If we are not there to lift them up when they fall, who will be? One way to lift them up is to pray for them. When we include God in our relationship, we are that threefold cord that is not quickly broken. Prayer is essential! We must not only pray for our spouse, but we should also pray together. "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matthew 18: 20) God hears our prayers and is our strength and our salvation. He will uphold us when the enemy comes against us. If we truly love our spouse, we will pray, because that is truly the only insurance we have to protect the treasure that we have!

Rule #2: Divorce is not an option, and the 'D' word should never be spoken. There was a day when a promise was not entered into lightly, and was not easily broken. That day has long since passed. People need to grasp the gravity of the promise they make when they vow to be with one another for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part. This is not only a promise to one another, but a covenant with God. A covenant is defined as a binding agreement. We are binding ourselves to one another and God. It's easy to keep these promises when things are easy, but it takes some effort to keep them when trying times come. If a person has the idea that the relationship can be ended if things get too hard, that is a thinking error! A marriage should be entered into with the thought that you are going to make it work, no matter what, and ending it is not an option.

Rule #3: Your spouse should be your best friend. This is the person that you should be the most comfortable with. You should be able to share your most heartfelt thoughts and emotions with this person without fear of them thinking any less of you. You should desire to be around this person, in leisure time, as well as a team, working together in life. A person wants only the best for their best friend, just as someone wouldn't do something to ambush the rest of their team, but instead wants to make the team stronger and better. The same is true in marriage. This is why it is essential to never speak disparagingly to someone else about your spouse. If your spouse has done or said something that offends you, do not go to someone else and talk bad about them. You are setting an ambush for your team, as well as breaching rules of trust. Why would someone willingly tear down their best friend? The answer...a true best friend would never do that. Instead, a best friend would forgive them, love them, and talk it out with them. You should not only expect your spouse to be a best friend to you, but you need to focus on being a best friend to them. When the romantic fireworks aren't quite as bright as they once were, the strength of a good marriage is friendship.

Rule #4: Make your expectations known. This is some of the best advice that I was given before getting married. How will your spouse know what you need and expect from your relationship unless you tell them? Both of you were raised in different households, with different rules, and quite possibly, different family structures. When you enter into marriage, you may expect things to be a certain way, and some of those things may never have crossed their mind. Then, when your spouse doesn't react to something the way you expected, it's easy to be angry. Before that happens, sit down and talk about what you both expect and need so that you can be working on fulfilling the needs of one another. Examples...I expect the family to sit at the table for dinner every night, just as my husband needs me to clearly communicate to him what the household schedule is each day and keep everyone on track.

Rule #5: Always show respect for your spouse. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me. Wrong! Proverbs 18: 21 says, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof." We can use our words to build up and encourage our spouse, or we can use them to tear them down and kill our relationship. It is never okay to call our spouse names or say anything that would emotionally wound them, no matter how angry we are. We need to be especially careful around others, but whether we are around others or alone, we must remember that any cutting words we use will not only cut them deeply, but they also cut the ties that bind us together. We must value our marriage in such a way that we would never want to do anything to harm it, but treat it as the precious entity that it is. It is acceptable to be angry, but it is never acceptable to say something to your spouse that is anything less than uplifting.

Rule #6: Honor will protect your marriage. One definition of honor is the highest moral principles and the absence of deceit or fraud, and denotes a fine sense of, and a strict conformity to, what is considered morally right or due. Simply put, if your spouse isn't comfortable with something, don't do it! This not only includes your actions, but also people you may associate with. If your spouse doesn't feel completely right about you associating with a specific person and mentions that they are uncomfortable, don't get angry! God gave us feelings for a reason. Therefore, we should do everything we can to ensure that our spouse is comfortable and secure in our relationship. This is showing them honor, or putting their needs and wants above our own. We are then protecting our marriage by giving them no reason to think that there is even the remotest possibility of anything happening in our life that is immoral. Our first thought may be that they are being ridiculous, but when we are willing to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to protect our marriage, we are showing honor. Esther 1: 20 says, "...all the wives shall give to their husbands honour, both to great and small." No matter how big or small we think an issue is, wives are to honor their husbands. 1 Peter 3: 7 says, "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered." A husband is to give honor to his wife, as unto the weaker vessel. This could be likened unto the handling of a piece of fine china. We know that china is to be treasured, and we handle it carefully. Husbands, treasure your wives and treat them carefully! In all things, treasure your spouse and put them first, giving them honor!

Rule #7: Fight fair! Every couple will have a disagreement. People tend to become angry when they feel that they are not being heard or understood. It is okay to disagree, but there are some guidelines to follow in a disagreement. First, do not say 'always' or 'never', such as, "You always criticize my cooking!" or "You never show appreciation for the things I do!" 'Always' and 'never' statements are just not true. Does your spouse criticize every dish of every meal? Probably not. Just as your spouse probably does thank you for some things you do periodically, but may not be as often as you would like. Second, do not use 'you' statements such as those given above. When a person uses 'you' statements, it's like pointing a finger at them and taking the blame off of oneself. The better way to handle this is by using 'I' statements such as, "I don't like how it makes me feel when ....." or "I have noticed ......" The focus is then aimed at yourself and your spouse likely won't respond as if they are being threatened. Third, refer to Rule #5 above...always show respect. Do not use words that would show disrespect toward your spouse, even in anger! Fourth, take a time out if things get heated. It's okay to calmly tell your spouse that you need a few minutes to cool off before talking things through, especially if this is going to maintain the respect and honor you are supposed to have for your best friend and lifelong teammate. Fifth, never go to bed angry! Ephesians 4: 26 says, "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:" At least tell one another, "I love you!", and agree to discuss the situation the next day, but better yet, talk it out. We truly don't know what tomorrow will hold or how long we have together. We need to treasure the time we do have, and spending that time wound up in anger is a waste of time and energy that could better be spent working on your relationship and simply loving one another.

Rule #8: Don't keep score. None of us are perfect and we all make mistakes. However, if we bring our spouses mistakes up, it only tears them down. We cannot keep score of how many times our spouse has done something in the past that we view as wrongful, versus how many times we have done something, because in our own eyes, we will always find a way to see the things they have said or done and forget the things we've said or done. It's our carnal nature. If we continually discuss their past mistakes, we are not truly focused on giving our best to our marriage, or making our marriage the best it could be. We need to simply forget those things, which brings us to Rule #9...forgiveness.

Rule #9: Forgive just as you want to be forgiven. Let's look back at the ultimate forgiveness...Jesus died. He DIED a horrible death on the cross for each of us so that we could be saved! He did that because He loved us. We have asked Him to forgive us of our sins, and we knew He did. Micah 7: 19 says, "He will turn again, he will have compassion on us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea." He cast our sins into the depths of the sea...all forgiven! Shouldn't we forgive our spouse just the same, especially because we claim to love them? We must forgive them of every action or word, casting those things into the proverbial sea that they would be gone forever. It serves no purpose to hold onto those things if we know they will only compromise our marriage, especially when we should want only what is best for our marriage. Mark 11: 26 says, "But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses." Not only should we forgive because it is what's best for our marriage, but because we cannot be forgiven if we don't forgive. Are we really willing to risk our own salvation because of something our spouse said or did that we won't let go of? If we are holding onto those things, then God isn't forgiving us, and our sins are piling up as well. I recently heard someone say that we have not truly forgiven someone if we're still talking about it and thinking about it. So true! Is their transgression serious enough to risk the possible destruction of your marriage and your own eternity because of unforgiveness? Forgiveness isn't about them. It's about freeing yourself. Remember...our spouse has all those things that we've done and said to them to forgive. We are no more perfect than they are. When we realize that nobody is perfect, and we are just two imperfect people trying to do our best with God's help, it puts things into perspective. Our spouse is our best friend and the love of our life, and we should never allow anything to come between that!

Rule #10: Intimacy within the bonds of marriage is holy! Just as you should never tear your spouse down to others, you should never discuss the marriage bed with others. That is a precious time one with another, and should be treated as such by being kept strictly between the two of you only. When others are allowed to discuss that which is sacred between a man and his wife, trust is being breached, as is our promise to cherish one another.

If a couple utilizes each of these ten rules for a blessed marriage, each doing their best to honor the promises they have made one to another on their wedding day, a successful, happy marriage can be achieved!